burning in your flame

"Princesses," Desire said in one of its rare long speeches, in words that were a caress to the ear, "don't know anything about desire."

"Oh?" Anthy said. Her lips were parted. Her eyes were wide. She was a picture of innocent curiosity, a rosebud just opening.

"Why, yes," Desire said. "They're pale as candles in church, white as lambs, pure as snow. They've never heard the word. That's not what princesses are about."

"And princes?" Anthy asked, her hands busy with her roses.

"Princes." Desire watched her. "Princes light those candles. They pierce the princess with their sword and bring her to life. They wake her from her sleep. But you see, Rose Bride, princesses on their own don't feel desire. They are merely objects of desire."

"And yet you come to me."

"Well, you aren't a princess any more, are you, Rose Bride?"

"But then," Anthy said, "what is the Rose Bride?"

"You light the candle," Desire said, "and the wax runs." Its fingers traced long lines in the air. "It drips down the side of the candle. It ghosts against the glass of the lantern. It drapes itself into thin veils that cling to the metal of the holder. It's cloudy where once it was translucent; it's full of sin, full of impurity, full of the candle smoke."

Anthy watched, silent.

"And when you bring the flame to it," Desire said, "it melts again, and again, and again. It cannot be rigid. It cannot be hard and cold. It cannot bear to hold itself away. It falls and clings, it bends, it weakens, it softens, it surrenders itself."

"But it still hates," Anthy said.

"But it still gives itself to the flame," Desire said. "He's waiting for you tonight in the planetarium."

"I know," Anthy said, and turned to scatter the roses, running her hands through the blossoms till her skin was scored by the thorns and the petals fell like lost hopes.